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Flash Movie Review: Nomadland

MAYBE BEING BORN IN AN APARTMENT building is the reason why I acknowledge neighbors when I see them. I have lived in buildings and houses; each offers a different living experience. With a house, I always made sure that any loud music/noise ended by 9 pm. There were times I would get home late on a winter night and I would not use the snowblower to shovel the sidewalks, because I did not want to disturb any neighbors. It was important to me to be a good neighbor, so I never complained about a dog barking non-stop in the neighbor’s backyard or my neighbor’s child shooting baskets at 6:30 in the morning. Honestly, I was fortunate to have reasonable and good neighbors. It was not unusual for a neighbor to come over and help when they saw me attempting to do a home repair outside. Likewise, I would help a neighbor carry groceries or heavy objects from their vehicle whenever I saw them. When I moved from an apartment to a house, I made it a point to maintain friendly, or at least cordial, relations with my neighbors. We were going to be living next door to each other, so why would I want to cause something that would turn the relationship acrimonious.      LIVING IN A CONDO BUILDING, I have found I have more frequent contact with neighbors than when living in a house. Having several apartments on one floor, one is bound to bump into a neighbor in the hallway. Add in an elevator and there rarely is a day I would not see anyone. Now here is the funny thing; when someone would get on the elevator I always either say hello or acknowledge them with a nod of my head. We live in the same building and though they may be a stranger to me, I feel it is the kind thing to do. It always surprises me when I meet a neighbor who either does not make eye contact or says nothing in return when I acknowledge them. It is not like I get offended by it; I just find it odd. There are some neighbors who will make small talk and there are others who just say a quick hi and go about their business. This may sound weird, but I sometimes wonder what a neighbor would do if they came upon me in some kind of physical distress. Would they quickly walk away because they do not want to be involved or would they try to help? I would rather they be like the neighbors in this dramatic, Academy Award winning movie.      EXPERIENCING MULTIPLE LOSSES AFTER THE GREAT recession, the only thing Fern, played by Frances McDormand (Moonrise Kingdom, Burn After Reading), had available was her phone and a van. Between the two she would find a place unlike the place she had come from. With newcomer Gay DeForest as Gay, newcomer Patricia Grier as Patty, newcomer Linda May as Linda and David Strathairn (Fast Color, Godzilla: King of the Monsters) as Dave, this film festival winner was a gentle piece of work. The direction was excellent though I have to say the pacing bordered close to being too slow for me. The acting from Francis was a study on how one could convey emotions without talking and she was powerful in the role. One of the big surprises for me were the newcomers who were not actors but the actual people portraying their lives. The story was a curious one and I appreciated the way it was filmed; the scenery was beautiful. I do have to say if I had seen this before I did my Oscar favorites, I honestly would not have picked Frances as best actress, not that she was bad by any means. My focus is first and foremost the entertainment value and I think the slowness and quiet dragged me down a bit. However, I still feel this rightfully deserved to be included with the nominees this past year.

3 ¼ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The French Dispatch

THERE ON PAGE 4 OF THE newspaper was my professor’s name. I was excited to see her name right below the title of the news article. She was a cool journalism teacher with a colorful vocabulary. Of course, I had to read what she wrote to see if she practiced what she preached. Her class was my first introduction into journalism; I had not made up my mind if I wanted to be a reporter or a novelist. The college I was attending was known as a “working” school of education. The professors worked in the field they taught. For example, my poetry professor was a famous poet with several published books of poetry. I remember seeing them all lined up on a shelf at a large, national chain bookstore. The journalism teacher was on staff at the newspaper. I still remember how she explained to us how to start writing an article; it was like an upside-down pyramid. The opening line should grab the readers attention, so hit the reader with the facts of the story, starting with the most dramatic one. She also was a stickler for spelling and punctuation, editing our news’ stories with a red inked fountain pen. Periodically, she would surprise us with a scenario she created, and we would have to write up an article as she timed us. It was obvious she loved her work.      THE OTHER IMPORTANT THING MY JOURNALISM teacher taught me was the importance of words, that words mattered. She taught us how to remove our feelings from our writing because a journalist’s job was to report the facts. We would have newspapers delivered to the classroom then go through them, dissecting the articles that were city, national or world news. The ones about culture, fashion and sports were rarely needed. Our teacher stressed upon us to choose our adjectives carefully. She would show us by reading an article as written then repeat it with the adjectives changed, to show us how it can change the reader’s perspective. The class truly was a master class in my opinion. And though it was one of my favorite classes my heart yearned more for the fictional verse. I loved creating a picture in people’s minds with my words. Now granted I may not utilize my fictional skills in my reviews, but I still watch what words I choose. Being a reporter is a noble job and I know it has taken a beating the past few years. Some of the blame honestly is justified. Seeing how the newspapers I read carry the same story but based on who owns the newspaper, there may be a different slant to the story. However, a reporter’s job is to report the news and that is why I was happy watching this inventive film.      AN AMERICAN NEWSPAPER WITH AN OFFICE in France is determined to report the stories. The reporters would go to any lengths to get the story. With Benicio Del Toro (No Sudden Move, A Perfect Day) as Moses Rosenthaler, Adrien Brody (Manhattan Night, The Pianist) as Julian Cadazio, Tilda Swinton (A Bigger Splash, I Am Love) as J.K.L. Berensen, Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color, Midnight in Paris) as Simone and Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading, Nomadland) as Lucinda Krementz; this dramatic comedy romance was a kaleidoscope of visual treats. The scenery and use of color kept me attentive to what was taking place in the scenes. The other aspect that grabbed my attention was the abundance of actors in the story. Though some were utilized more than others, I still enjoyed watching them. It did take me time to get into the movie. A quarter to a third way in things started to click for me. The story is a tribute to journalists, told in a fun and entertaining way. If you are a fan of Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs) then you will enjoy this film; if you are not, I do not believe you will be as entertained.                                          

3 stars  

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